What To Ask At Your First Postpartum Check-up
Bringing babies into the world is hard work; it’s called labor for a reason! The first few weeks of caring for a newborn are no walk in the park either, especially as your body heals. Your little one isn’t the only one deserving care and attention after birth. Let’s prepare for your first postpartum check-up appointment so that you can continue to be your best self, for you and everyone around you.
Consider these 6 talking points at your first postpartum checkup to make sure your physical and emotional recovery is on the right track:
The sudden change and drop in hormone levels can make the postpartum period particularly emotional. However, if what you are feeling is keeping you from taking care of yourself or your baby, tell your medical provider that you’d like to be screened for postpartum depression or anxiety. PPD affects millions of new parents each year and it can present itself in various ways including extreme bouts of crying, difficulty bonding with your baby, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, mood swings, panic attacks, or persistent unwanted thoughts. Talk to your doctor if you think it’s affecting you. Mental health therapists who specialize in pregnancy and postpartum can help with processing and understanding these feelings and help you feel better.
After you have your baby, a lot about life will be new and can feel “off” and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between what is normal and what could be concerning. Be sure to mention to your midwife or doctor anything that is painful or uncomfortable including urinating, constipation, sitting, breastfeeding or bodyfeeding, walking, getting out of bed. etc. Ask about your pelvic floor strength and healing, as well. Your provider may refer you to a pelvic floor therapist for exercises to support healing, strengthening, and recovery from childbirth.
healing, tearing, bleeding
At your first postpartum appointment, your provider will likely check any tears or cuts you may have experienced during childbirth. Talk about how your tear or episiotomy feels, mention your bleeding and ask what you can expect from your body as it pertains to your menstruation returning, for example: new parents who are exclusively nursing can usually expect to wait longer for their periods to return than new parents who are not.
Many doctors give a generic answer of “6 weeks” as a guide on when it is safe to resume certain physical activities such as penetrative sex and exercise. Your first postpartum appointment is a wonderful time to get a better answer based on the particulars of your birth, healing, and desire.
If you are beginning to think about having sex again, whether soon or in the future, you may also be wondering how to prevent pregnancy. While nursing was once widely thought to be a method of birth control, we now know that even fully exclusive nursing parents will ovulate before their first period, therefore nursing alone isn’t an effective method. If you are interested in preventing future pregnancies, speak with your doctor or midwife about what birth control methods are available and best for you. There are many options today ranging from barrier methods to non or low-hormonal methods.
After describing your general experience of life since having your baby, ask your provider if they think you could benefit from the additional support of a postpartum doula, lactation consultant, physical therapist, pelvic floor therapist, nutritionist, sleep consultant or any other area of need they can identify. As the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states, postpartum care should be an ongoing process, rather than a single encounter, with services and support tailored to each woman’s individual needs. Your doctor may not have all the experience necessary to guide you through your postpartum journey but they should be able to point you in the right direction. Boober can match you to many of these providers if you need help finding one.
In the days and weeks after having your baby, life can come at you fast. It can feel like there are endless things to take care of and so much to do. During this time, don’t forget to take a moment to reflect on your own needs.
How are you doing mentally, emotionally and physically? How is your healing, tearing and bleeding? What questions do you have about referrals, birth control or resuming physical activities?
Don’t forget to take care of yourself, so that you can take care of the rest!
Laura Max is a birth and postpartum doula, having served clients in both New York and in mid-Michigan. She is a wife and the mother of two. When Laura is not supporting new families, you can find her out in nature with her own. Laura is available on the boober platform for matches.